Holiday shoppers in New York City.

Despite frigid weather in the Eastern U.S., weekly retail sales showed week-over-week and year-over-year gains for the period ended Saturday, Jan. 6, according to The Retail Economist-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index.

The report also noted lower spending on gift cards this year. And in a separate research note, analysts at Telsey Advisory Group said this past holiday season was a win for specialty apparel retailers — some of which have raised their sales and earnings outlook. The robust season also triggered revised earnings guidance from Target Corp. this morning.

In regard to retail sales, Michael Niemira said in his report that weekly sales rose 2 percent compared to the prior week, and showed a year-over-year increase of 3.8 percent. “Although a Nor’easter played havoc with shoppers on the East Coast, net sales for the past week were still impressive,” he said.

The economist also said his firm’s holiday tracking survey “found a startling change in holiday shopping behavior during the past season, which helped to boost overall recorded sales.”

“As a share of the total holiday-gift expenditures, the money going into gift cards fell to 20.8 percent — which was a sharp drop from 25 percent in 2016 and the lowest share since 2011,” he said. “This meant consumers were spending relatively more on merchandise gifts for the 2017 holiday than in the past six holiday seasons.”

Dana Telsey, chief executive officer and chief research officer of Telsey Advisory Group, said that with “some scattered exceptions, holiday sales trends came in better than expected in the specialty retail space, pointing, in our view, to stronger customer response to a beneficial fashion cycle, better-positioned store fleets and improved e-commerce capabilities.”

“While the top-line results did not flow through to earnings in every case, leading to some more profit-taking in the group, we see holiday sales trends as an encouraging read on brand health across our space as we head into the new year,” she added.

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